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Donors raise record sum for Manchester’s charity!

We Love MCR Charity have raised an enormous £230,000 thanks to our generous donors who attended the ‘Heart and Hope’ Charity Dinner this week.


(L-R: Simon Wright, Lord Mayor Cllr Yasmine Dar, Georgina Ralston)

The event, which took place at the Midland Hotel on the evening of Wednesday 27th September, was attended by 450 guests from across Manchester’s diverse business landscape, from legal and financial firms to leaders in property and retail.


(Consort Majid Dar and Lord Mayor Cllr Yasmine Dar)

Following on from last year’s inaugural event which raised an impressive £170,000, this second black-tie dinner featured performances from some of the ambitious young Mancunians supported by our unique Manchester’s Rising Stars Fund.


(We Love MCR Trustee, and host of the night, Aneel Mussarat starting proceedings)

Hosted again by Aneel Mussarat, founder of MCR Property Group and valued trustee of WLMC, the night began with him introducing the current Lord Mayor of Manchester, and our Chair of Trustees, Councillor Yasmine Dar. Her inspiring speech gave insight to her experiences growing up in Manchester, and her journey from training as a hairdresser to sitting on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, drawing parallels with the ambitious streak running through all of the work we fund.


(Lord Mayor Cllr Yasmine Dar addressing the crowd)

We also took the opportunity to introduce our new Head of Charity, Simon Wright, on just his third day at We Love MCR! It was the perfect way for our supporters to welcome him and continue their relationships with the charity through him.


(Simon Wright making his first appearance as Head of Charity))

We were deeply honoured to have our keynote speech delivered by Simon Arora, the businessman who made B&M a household name, focusing on the contributions of immigrants and refugees to the country.


Simon cited his own family’s experiences, talking about how his parents came to Manchester during partition, and how that informed his journey into the incredibly successful businessman that he has become. Attendees had the privilege of a short Q&A at the end of Simon’s speech, where they gained insights into his learnings from his business and personal experiences.


(Aneel Mussarat and Simon Arora)

Simon’s speech was the perfect backdrop to the subsequent illustration from our Grants Manager, Marie, of the work we do. As Manchester’s own charity, we serve diverse communities and young people from all backgrounds with the ambitions to succeed in work, qualifications, and entrepreneurship – like Simon. This is done through our Stronger Communities and Manchester’s Rising Stars Funds, and Marie gave the room a snapshot of just a few of the hundreds of positive stories we are helping to create with these awards.


(Marie O'Neill-Steinegger illustrating our work)

The Rising Stars Fund was present throughout the night, with some of our Rising Stars being invited for paid opportunities to use their talents, and also as our esteemed guests. Every photo in this article (except the one below of him in action) was taken by Jake Lindley, an up-and-coming photojournalist who we supported in 2021.


(Jake Lindley photographing Marie, Sam Makonam, and the Lord Mayor)

Tyler Eckersall and Helena Logah provided the entertainment for the night, with 18-year-old Tyler at the start of his journey to become a professional clarinettist, and Helena, one of our first Rising Stars, now firmly established as a virtuoso violist and violinist, performing across Europe and supporting huge stars like Liam Gallagher and Little Mix.


(Tyler Eckersall during his performance)

(Helena Logah during her performance)

Finally, the talk of the evening were the Lord Mayor and Marie’s stunning dresses, which were designed and created by up-and-coming fashion designer Sam Makonam (seen between Marie and the Lord Mayor above) who we supported this year. His incredible skills as a sewist impressed the room and led to commissions from other guests!


(Lord Mayor and Marie)

The money raised during the night came from table bookings, raffles, and generous pledges from attendees. The generously donated raffle prizes consisted of:

  • A night for two in the Stock Exchange Hotel

  • Four tickets for the Sponsors Lounge at Salford City Football Club

  • A hospitality table for ten for Sharks vs Harlequins, plus a framed and signed Sale Sharks shirt, donated by Gallaghers

  • Afternoon tea for two at The Midland Hotel

  • £100 in vouchers for Slaters

Guests who were moved by the stories of how we have supported our city’s young people and communities gave generous pledges, all of which we will celebrate individually at a later date. A £30,000 donation from the event’s keynote sponsor Together, as part of their new wider partnership with us, contributed to the final total of £230,000 raised on the night which will go towards our two main Funds.


We Love MCR would like to thank all of the guests, speakers and staff who facilitated the event’s incredible success, and those who generously donated to ensure our work can continue. These valuable relationships, both new and ongoing, will be vital to us in the year ahead as we look to expand our grants programmes and change even more lives in Manchester.



(A good portion of the We Love MCR Team! L-R: Trustee Michelle Rothwell, Marie O'Neill-Steinegger, Trustee Fiona Ledden, Trustee Hassan Hassan, Lord Mayor, Nick Clarke, Ambassador Yvonne O'Malley, Simon Wright, Georgina Ralston, Trustee Andreas Georgiou) )

(L-R: Consort Majid Dar, Lord Mayor, Hassan Hassan, Aneel Mussarat, Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar)



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